Millions at risk from identity fraud

Millions of Britons are at risk from identity fraud because they don't manage their credit files according to the latest research from online credit report and ID fraud alert provider MyCallcredit.

More than 30m people in the UK hold an average of 2.3 personal credit and charge cards but 35 per cent of these cards are dormant (1).

MyCallcredit director Alison Nicholson warns:

"This means more than 10m Britons may have credit facilities registered in their names which are open to theft by an ID fraudster who would be able to run up bills without the victim's knowledge.

"Cutting up a credit or charge card just isn't good enough, you need to inform the lender that you no longer want the facility to prevent your ID and credit file being stolen by a fraudster."

How does it work?
  • If you cut up a credit card or leave it in your drawer it remains on your record until you inform the lender.
  • Cards remain active until their expiry date and are normally reissued automatically.
    If the account is dormant a statement is not necessarily issued.
  • A fraudster can access dormant credit facilities by obtaining personal information, change the address on that facility and continue to use it without the victim's knowledge.
  • On average it takes 16 months to detect ID fraud (2).
  • It can take a typical victim 60 hours work to prove they have been a victim of ID fraud. In extreme cases it can cost £8,000 and 300 man-hours to clear your name (3).
Editors Notes
  1. At the end of 2004 there were 30.6m holders of personal credit and charge cards with each holder having an average of 2.3 cards. 35 per cent of credit card accounts are dormant (Source: APACS).
  2. A report by personal protection advisers the CPP Group found that people believed it would take about 103 days to realise their identity had been stolen, the reality is 480 days or 16 months.
  3. It can take a typical victim 60 hours work to prove their innocence. In the case of a total identity hijack, perhaps involving 20-30 lenders, the cost of proving innocence for busy people can be as much as £8,000 and take up to 300 hours (Source:CIFAS).

Lenders can access the overindebtedness information through Geodebt, one of Callcredit's business to business products.